Agenda guide to the primary elections, including polling hours and other races on the ballot

Agenda guide to the primary elections, including polling hours and other races on the ballot
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In North Carolina, the past three presidential contests have been decided by an average of 2 percentage points.

The state will once again be among the most important in the 2020 election cycle. The Republican National Convention is here this summer, and candidates are already flowing through Charlotte. This month, President Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Tom Steyer are among those that have visited Charlotte.

Whatever your political preference, you live in a state where your vote matters.

Here’s basic information for the 2020 primary.

Are you registered to vote?  Check here to confirm your eligibility and see your sample ballot.

Early voting locations: Early voting is over. But for future reference, here’s a map of 20 one-stop locations scattered from Ballantyne to Cornelius and places in between.

Hours: Polls open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today.

Do you need a photo ID? No. A federal judge blocked the Voter ID law on December 31.

What if I’m registered unaffiliated? You can vote in any primary — Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian — but not more than one.

Five key races

(1) President: Democrats have 16 candidates to choose from, although some who are on the ballot have dropped out, including Andrew Yang earlier this month.

A UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion poll from February 20 shows that Senator Bernie Sanders and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are the favorites to win North Carolina. The poll has Sanders ahead of Bloomberg by 4 percent among North Carolina Democrats voters who said they’re likely to participate in the primary. Former Vice President Joe Biden was close behind in third, Senator Elizabeth Warren was in fourth, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg in fifth, and Senator Amy Klobuchar in sixth.

Prominent local voices have thrown support behind candidates in the Democratic primary. Congresswoman Alma Adams has endorsed Joe Biden, while former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl has been named co-chair of Michael Bloomberg’s North Carolina campaign.

Republicans have three candidates on the ballot, including Trump, who will undoubtedly win and move on to the general. You knew that. But did you know that 16 Libertarian candidates are also competing in the presidential primary?

(2) U.S. Senate: Democrats will see who’ll face incumbent Senator Thom Tillis. Cal Cunningham is the likely winner, but the race got a shot of intrigue this week with reports that a Republican PAC is spending millions in support of one of his opponents, Erica Smith. Mecklenburg County commissioner Trevor Fuller is also running for the spot.

(3) Governor: Democrat Roy Cooper has a challenger in Ernest Reeves, but Cooper will likely move on to the general. On the Republican side, lieutenant governor Dan Forest faces Holly Grange. A High Point University poll has Forest with a sizable edge.

(4) Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners at-large (Democrat): In the first election since Democrats gained a 9-0 sweep of the board, 2020 is an important year for the commissioners. After a property revaluation increased most residents’ tax bills, and a long fight over the sales tax referendum last fall, spending is still the most prominent subject: the school board this month asked more tax money for school construction, for instance.

You can select three candidates from a list of eight. Pat Cotham and Ella Scarborough are incumbents. Cotham is regularly one of the leading vote-getters, and she has a long record of breaking with the Democratic majority. But newcomer Leigh Altman — an attorney, former assistant attorney general in Georgia, and an advocate for seniors and children in Mecklenburg County — has raised a ton of money. Pastor Ray McKinnon, whose church serves the Brookhill community, has support from several of the city’s influential businesspeople and political organizations, including the Black Political Caucus.

(5) 9th Congressional District: You may remember the saga of the 9th in 2018, when a wild election fraud scandal voided an apparent victory for Republican Mark Harris. Last September, Republican Dan Bishop won the seat in a special election.

This time, Bishop has no primary challenger, while the Democrats have four candidates — including Cynthia Wallace, the only Charlotte resident and only woman in the primary.

Also different this time is the fact that the district has been redrawn. Bladen County, the origin point for the fraud scandal, is no longer in the 9th. Neither are Cumberland County and parts of southeastern Mecklenburg County, including Mint Hill.

Plus, other local candidates to watch for in bigger elections: Fuller’s up in the Senate primary. Also, city Councilwoman Dimple Ajmera is running for state treasurer, and stands a strong chance of winning the primary given her endorsements and financial backing.

Bill Toole, an environmental attorney and former partner at Robinson, Bradshaw, & Hinson, is running in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, as is state house member Chaz Beasley. Beasley’s received a string of endorsements in the past month; Toole, meanwhile, ran a series of ads saying he’d pursue controlled access of cannabis in the Charlotte Observer’s “Journey Across The 100” online feature this month. Former south Mecklenburg state representative Scott Stone, the president of a civil engineering firm, is up for lieutenant governor in a crowded Republican primary that also includes former congresswoman Renee Ellmers.

Here’s what the ballots will look like:

Sample Democratic primary ballot for a resident of Plaza Midwood (12th congressional district):


Sample Democratic primary ballot for someone in southeast Charlotte (9th congressional district):


Sample Republican primary ballot for someone in either of Mecklenburg County’s congressional districts:

Sample Ballot NC 12 Republican

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